Foreword 004: Abby St. Claire
"The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don't always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don't necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant." — Doctor Who
Tell us about yourself!
I grew up outside of Chicago, and at a ripe age, I fell in love with the city, and all the small businesses stole my heart. After a failed pipe dream and poor planning on my part, I found myself in St. Louis for my first year of university. There, I co-founded and designed a St. Louis-based lifestyle quarterly publication called The City Dossier. Now, I am back in Chicago to study graphic design while working at and developing a publication for a Chicago-based company called Flowers for Dreams. I am also the co-founder of an online publication called WITH/ANOTHER, which highlights amazing creative women in Chicago.
I absolutely love to travel; I truly believe that it is one of the most important things a person can do. I am constantly making lists of beautiful lil shops, restaurants, and museums in different cities around the world. I have been fortunate enough to spend time in Europe, and it is most definitely my favorite place. Something about the culture, architecture, food, and slow living really resonates with me.
When/if I have free time, I can be found eating tacos, laughing at John Mulaney standup, listening to Drake, scrolling through Man Repeller, or binge-watching The Office.
What advice have you found to be most useful to you as a young creative?
Ira Glass talks about a period of time all creatives go through called “The Gap.” Basically, anyone who gets into creative work, gets into it because of good taste. But there is a gap. It is the first couple of years that you’re creating, and you can tell that what you’re making isn’t that great, even though it is trying to be. But your taste is still killer, and it is good enough to tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment. A lot of people don’t make it past this phase. A lot of people at this point just quit. And if there is one thing I can say with all of my heart is to not give up. Throw yourself into a large body of work, and it is only by doing this that you will close this gap. And it will take time, but it will be so worth it in the end when you are producing something you can be proud of.
Don't underestimate the power of work hard, play hard. Be serious about the work you are creating, but have a lighthearted view on life and what success is, because it looks different to everyone.
Nobody really knows what they are doing, even if it seems like they do. Somebody probably looks at you and thinks that you know what you're doing.
What are you trying to learn now?
To be content. It is incredibly hard. My whole life has been about looking to the next thing, even as a kid. I couldn't wait to get out of middle school, of high school, and now college. I am in an interesting position where I have these two different identities: a student and a creative professional. A lot of my close friends are older than me and I have a hard time truly relating with a lot of people my age. I'm trying not to grow up too fast, and to give myself a break when I set unrealistic expectations or try to rush success. We are taught to be so result-orientated, and I am certainly the same. I have a hard time being satisfied with what I create, and I look to others in different positions in life and in their creative journey and compare myself to them. It plays into my struggle with Impostor Syndrome. I have a hard time attributing my creative success to my own actions, and will attribute it to luck, timing, or a lie. Impostor Syndrome is actually extremely common in high achieving women, and it is hard to convince myself that my achievements are not a result of the aforementioned things, especially of late. So yea, contentment.
What do you believe that you wish everyone else believed too?
The world is greater than you; you are not the world. Every person and culture has a unique perspective to offer, and not one is neither right nor wrong. There is always more to see, learn, and experience, and we should take advantage of that in any way possible.
Where is the best place you've ever been?
That is so incredibly hard. I have been so lucky to visit so many beautifully, equally unique places. Seeing cliffs plummeting into the cyan sea and vast landscape of naturally growing succulents in northern California makes me realize how small I am; the bustling cultural hub and streets lined with brownstones protected by trees of lower Manhattan is probably the closest thing to magic; standing square to a Vermeer in a museum in the middle of the Medieval city of Edinburgh takes me back to a time that formed our ideas of history and the world.
My heart will always lie within the rolling hills of Tuscany. A 200 year-old villa that sits across an ancient walled town and overlooks olive trees as old as the home itself was my first love, and will always be the memory I will cheat on, no matter where my feet take me.
However, Paris may as well be synonymous with perfection. The city that took the hearts of hundreds of artists, writers, designers, leaders, and tastemakers is the perfect blend of art, culture, cuisine, and all that is good. Whether it be exploring the halls of the Louvre, reading a book by a fountain at the Palais Royal, strolling the manicured lawns of the Tuileries Garden, window shopping at one of many specialty stores, or looking out from a balcony over rooftops and across to the Eiffel Tower, nothing gets me quite like Paris.
Photo Credit: Abby St. Clair
Written by Clayton Fuller